Maria Tran is an actor, filmmaker and community arts trainer. She has a degree in Psychology and is passionate on screen culture amongst the culturally diverse communities in Australia. She made various short films such as Metro Screen grant, A Little Dream, award-winning Happy Dent, and action kung-fu comedy Maximum Choppage. In 2008, she produced and acted in Downtown Rumble, a kung-fu micro-series on JTV-ABC TV. Her mockumentary short Hot Bread Shop was officially selected for the 2011 Colourfest Film Festival. Currently, Maria is completing the mixed genre movie project Quest for Jackie Chan!. Her other interests include vlogging, blogging, comedy writing, martial arts, photography, and digital storytelling. Below are some of her thoughts and experiences on ‘thinking big’ and making a difference in the screen scene:
Maria grew up with the typical expectations and stereotypes placed on many children of Asian Australian backgrounds that all they are about is test scores and study, more study, and then more study. But her own experiences as a child with dyslexia and a vivid day dreamer breaks that stereotype, and shows there are many ways to make your mark on the world.
“I wasn’t perceived as your typical ‘bright kid’ in the stereotypical way, and my parents failed to understand what dyslexia meant and attributed my lack of militant study skills to some sort of ancestral curse. Often I turned within, and spent most my time daydreaming (as my mother would say) and only now is it clear that this long drawn level of introspection is what has made me who I am and what I stand for.
The message from my experiences is really quite simple. It is the power to think big. Not in terms of test scores, or having a two storey house or bigger ‘bling bling’, but in being able to project what is in the mind into words and meaningful action”.
Pursuing Creative Dreams:
Maria is involved with numerous creative projects, completing a range of videos that range from the action comedy of BULLIES (directed with Somchay Phakonkham and screened at AAFFN’s 2011 event), and HOT BREAD SHOP (screened at Colourfest FF in 2011), to the heartfelt reflections of various Vietnamese Australians in the documentary MOSAIC (also completed 2011). But her biggest project yet is QUEST FOR JACKIE CHAN, a feature in development that is directed and acted by her and with guest appearances by actors such as Chris Pang. Maria has also worked as a researcher on the SBS documentary ONCE UPON A TIME IN CABRAMATTA, a three part series looking at the largest population of Vietnamese Australians in this country, which screened on SBS1 TV in January. For Maria, the key for pursuing these dreams is to also be committed and proactive, and in situations where there may not be much budget or commercial support but as she demonstrates, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“The bigger the dreams the bigger the commitment you need to make it happen. It’s been two years since I first spoke about doing the “Quest for Jackie Chan!” movie, and I’m still working on it. I do this project in my own time, and at every other minute that is free from the shackles of keeping afloat and making enough to pay the bills, put food in my mouth and live another day to ‘break through the ceiling’ that still keeps our demographics(Asian Australians) from making and sharing our ground breaking productions and creative work.
I believe with all the thinking lateral and proactive approaches amongst Asian Australians we will be able to pave the way for a new wave of thinking. We will also show how the arts is a legitimate field as much as any other we can make our mark in. And especially within the arts, our capacities for cross-pollination of efforts and ideas, creative dialogue and effective collaborations can be felt widely, as we go about creating bold and innovative works.
There will always be diverse perspectives on what is the ‘best’ path for the artist and activist, as well as how and where to partner up with mainstream. For instance, my role as a researcher on “Once Upon A Time In Cabramatta” proved to be quite a challenge. I did much introspection on what the definition of a compelling story is, and finding that line between thinking about your audiences, and thinking for and as part of the community. Additionally, even the term ‘community’ has been debated and constantly challenged by a number of critical perspectives from so many voices and angles.
But for me, at the end of the day, it is my thinking ‘big’ and the utter reflections of who I am, what I stand for and what I am willing to do to make that change that is most important. These are things I will also always question of those who come in my path too. Either friend or foe, if you lack knowledge in yourself than you are just nothing more than words.
I’m keen to see more of us thinking globally as a part of this ‘thinking big’. Developing a heart and mind for those we have never met, from other lands and diverse circumstances.
Here are my favourite tips to how to think big:
- Have mentors: Don’t rely on just one but try to access many, and from a diverse range of fields such as the arts, culture, business, politics etc. Also, have regular effective meet ups and develop everlasting relationships with them.
- Passionate energy flow: It is important to be on fire with your vision. Brilliant ideas alone will not cut it unless it resonates strongly towards the outside world.
- Change your mindsets: How you think about the world can determine the possibilities. So too often we make the familiar choice in our lives because we see change as a hassle.
- Make the connection: We are living in a time where our very own uniqueness has such potential for the mass audiences. All we have to do is to reach out and demonstrate to others what we are all about. These lines of rapid communication helps us forge a stronger identity and gives us food of thought to help us in our reflections.
To find out more about Maria’s work and follow the progress of her upcoming movie QUEST FOR JACKIE CHAN, you can check out her blog www.mariatran.com.au/.
ADDITIONAL LINKS for:
Quest for Jackie Chan: http://questforjackiechan.blogspot.com/
Hot Bread Shop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcBD4XSNQkk
Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta: www.sbs.com.au/onceuponatime
Interview with Indigo Willing